The Tigers have been the most active team early in this offseason and they continued their overhaul by addressing their bullpen need by signing proven closer Joe Nathan according to reports this morning from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The Tigers should be familiar with Nathan from his long tenure with their division-rival Minnesota Twins.
Nathan hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down despite being 39. Last year in Texas Nathan racked up 43 saves and posted a 6-2 record with an ERA of just 1.39 and a WHIP of 0.90. Even with Tommy John surgery in his history, he’s been as durable and reliable as any closer in the game and enjoyed two successful season for the Rangers.
If you are drafting for saves, which many owners don’t, Nathan is a name who needs to be near the top of your list. He’s in the elite level closer to consider with Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and possibly Koji Uehara among the tops in the game. If you can get him in your draft, he’s a relatively safe option based on his great track record. At some point, he may slow down or break down, but there are no signs of it in his recent history.
The other interesting element to Nathan moving to Detroit is the situation he leaves behind in Texas. The Rangers don’t have an established closer at this time and it looks like it will be a three-way competition in Spring Training between Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers, and Joakim Soria. Soria has the most expierience, but Feliz is my pick to emerge as the option to close for the Rangers from that group. Whoever gets the closer job in Arlington will definitely have value as well, so make sure to monitor the situation to see who steps up and claims the role Nathan looks to be vacating.